The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, commonly referred to as The Port, is a quasi-governmental organization whose purpose is to create equitable economic development in the Cincinnati metropolitan area. Through its managed entities the Hamilton County Landbank and the Homesteading and Urban Redevelopment Corporation, or the HURC, The Port supports neighborhood, commercial, and industrial development by rehabilitating properties for homeownership and investment.
In doing so, The Port takes on complicated projects, striking a balance between economic vitality and community benefit. This work would not be possible without the ecosystem of community partners also working to make Greater Cincinnati more vibrant.
The list is long including Sisters of Charity, the Community Action Agency, Legal Aid, Habitat for Humanity, and many other community councils and community development corporations. The common thread among these organizations? Each shares a mission to create equitable prosperity and revitalization for communities and their residents.
With low homeownership numbers in historically disinvested areas, two of the port’s partners are especially diligent in working to reclaim their neighborhoods. Sister Barbara Bush is the executive director of Working in Neighborhoods, or WIN, in South Cumminsville. A non-profit formed in 1978, WIN works in concert with The Port to help communities, as Bush says, build their neighborhood. It’s an economic growth strategy in lockstep with The Port’s.
“We really spend a lot of time with our neighbors, and it’s really their job to figure out what has to happen in their neighborhood. So that’s our goal – to help them figure out what it is they want and then how do we get to that point.” – Sister Barbara Bush, Executive Director, Working in Neighborhoods
The Port has been instrumental in helping WIN acquire and hold properties for future development, and WIN has helped The Port better advocate, train, and prepare residents for homeownership – a need in many communities since the recession of 2008.
“After the recession, the investors started buying up single-family housing, which had never been [the case previously.] So the loss of those homes means the loss of opportunity for our families.” – Sister Barbara Bush, Executive Director, Working in Neighborhoods
Rachel Hastings agrees. As Executive Director of Price Hill Will, the community development corporation representing East, West, and Lower Price Hill, Hastings sees the mutual benefits of her organization’s partnership with The Port on local ownership strategies.
“For many years The Port has been a source of property acquisitions for us, so The Port has stabilized properties, torn down properties that are not salvageable, and has also been really a strategic partner in helping us acquire key properties.” – Rachel Hastings, Executive Director, Price Hill Will
The Port’s CARE Homes initiative, a housing strategy designed to increase the number of homeowners in Hamilton County, is the latest example of The Port working closely with its neighborhood partners. In order for the CARE Homes initiative to succeed, The Port needs its partners’ buy-in and agreement from the start.
“The CARE initiative is really important because we just have so many institutional investors in Price Hill, and they have not been good neighbors. They’re not taking care of their properties and they are, in some ways, victimizing some of our families by charging very, very high rents for lower quality of life in their properties.” – Rachel Hastings, Executive Director, Price Hill Will
Which takes us back to the common thread shared by The Port, its partners, and the neighborhoods – equitable economic development. Whether it’s WIN, Price Hill Will, or any of the other many community partnerships, the efforts are steeped in collaboration, and the benefits of working together will continue to improve our communities over time.